COVID-19 Vaccination, It's Time!
The majority of my patients have a serious lung disease. They know that they are at increased risk for complications with COVID-19 infection and have been vaccinated. In the US, we are fortunate to have an adequate supply of vaccines. In the US, 65% of the population aged 18 and up have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 55% are fully vaccinated. However, I know we still have many holdouts.
I get it. The vaccines are new, and we don’t have as many years of experience with the newer vaccines as we do vaccines for influenza, for instance. But please think about it this way. In any given year, the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu by anywhere between 40 to 60%. For individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19, most individuals have roughly a 90% lower risk of developing an illness. At the same time, COVID-19 is far more lethal than the flu. It has been estimated that COVID-19 is five times deadlier than the flu. Individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 are also more likely to require ICU care and breathing support from a mechanical ventilator.
I’ve treated patients with COVID-19 in the ICU. It is so much more deadly than the flu and the third surge we just experienced in Michigan has impacted young adults, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
What about side effects? Yes, more people report muscle pain, fatigue, and headache with the COVID-19 vaccines than flu vaccines but these are temporary symptoms. Fortunately, so far more severe side effects with COVID-19 vaccines appear to be extremely rare and typically happen within the first few months of vaccination. The first trial participants received their doses of vaccine over a year ago. Hence, we have quite a bit of safety data accumulating.
So when is the right time to undergo COVID-19 vaccination? Now is the time.
My final thought is that if you are hesitant to undergo vaccination for yourself, please think about all your friends, family, and loved ones who may have comorbidities or immune-compromising conditions. My experience thus far suggests some of these individuals are not mounting robust responses to the vaccine. Hence those of us in close contact with such individuals must do our part to protect them. The more quickly we all undergo vaccination, the more quickly we can return to the activities and people we love.